Renewable Energy Benefits

Happy Global Recycling Day! 13 Tips for Recycling

Gexa Energy
April 26, 2023
minutes read
Gexa Energy
Publication Date:
November 17, 2023
Last updated:
December 7, 2023

Recycling plays a major role in maintaining the health of the environment, providing manufacturers with reusable materials to create products, and reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. You may already know why you should recycle, but do you know how to recycle correctly?  

Many people throw items into a recycling bin without considering whether each item can be recycled. But the recycling process is more complex than that and requires some research to gain a complete understanding of what can be recycled, and which items need to be reused or tossed in the trash.  

To help you recycle properly, Gexa put together this handy guide featuring tips for recycling and guidance on what can be recycled, how to recycle, and where to learn more about your local recycling program.  

Know the 3 Big Rules of Recycling

While there are plenty of recycling rules, many vary from program to program, depending on the facilities available. This makes the question, “What can I recycle?” a little tricky to answer. Instead of getting overwhelmed by in-depth recycling guides, start by memorizing these three rules:

  1. Recycle bottles, cans, paper, and cardboard.  
  1. Keep all foods and liquids out of your recycling bin.
  1. Never put loose plastic bags or bagged recyclables into the recycling bin.

There’s more to recycling than that, but these three rules are a great start and can help you quickly and easily answer the question: Is this product recyclable?

Understand What Can & Can’t Be Recycled

Being a successful and eco-friendly recycler requires an understanding of which items belong in the recycling bin, which belong in the trash, and which need special treatment and handling. Our previous guide provides a more in-depth look at what can be recycled, but in the meantime, here’s a quick list of common household waste and where each item belongs.

You can safely recycle these items in most municipal programs:

  • Paper and paper products, like newspapers, magazines, and junk mail
  • Cardboard – Make sure to break down boxes.
  • Glass bottles  
  • Aluminum cans

Keep these items out of the recycling bin:

  • Plastic bags – Reuse these bags in small trash cans or look for a local grocery store that accepts them for recycling.
  • Flimsy plastic materials, like bubble wrap, plastic wrap, and sandwich bags
  • Items made from combined materials, like mailing envelopes with plastic bubble wrap inside

Keep Small Items Out of Recycling

Small items are often too small to be sorted in a recycling center and can even jam up the machines. Avoid throwing anything smaller than a credit card in the recycling bin, such as straws, bottle caps, paperclips, or plastic cutlery. Plastic bottle caps can be recycled if they’re put back on their bottles, but metal bottle caps should be thrown away instead.

Clean Food Containers

One of the biggest contaminants to recycling loads is food waste. Liquids and foods can contaminate an entire bin’s worth of recycling, which means the whole load heads to the landfill instead of the recycling center.  

While you can’t recycle anything covered in food waste, many recyclable items can be cleaned before going in the recycling bin, so it’s important to know how to recycle food containers. Glass and plastic containers should be rinsed out, and you can recycle pizza boxes if they don’t feature a lot of grease or cheese. If they do, rip off the lid of the pizza box and recycle just that part.  

Review the Local Rules

Every recycling program has different rules based on what materials their facilities can properly sort. While many plastics are technically recyclable, your local program may not accept all plastics if they don’t have the ability to handle them. Research the local recycling rules for your program to get a clear idea of which items are accepted and which are not.  

Don’t Fall for Recycling Myths

We hear a variety of information about recycling in our daily lives, but not all of it is true. Look for these recycling myths and know the real facts about how to recycle.  

Recycling Arrows Means That an Item is Recyclable

You should always check your local recycling program if you’re uncertain about whether a product can be recycled. A lot of plastics can’t be turned into new products and can cause damage to recycling equipment. Just because you see the recycling symbol on a container, it does not mean you can put it in the recycling bin.  

Trash Will Get Sorted Out at the Recycling Center

You can’t throw just anything in the recycling bin. In fact, an item that isn’t recyclable can contaminate the entire load, which means that your recyclables end up in a landfill instead of a recycling facility. Make sure to keep trash out of the recycling bin and double-check if items can be recycled.  

All Glass Jars & Bottles Are Recyclable

Local recycling programs have their own rules about how glass can be recycled. Some communities have special drop-off locations for glass items or a separate bin for curbside recycling, while others have laws that allow glass bottles to be returned to specific centers. Check your local recycling program’s rules to determine how to recycle your glass products.  

You Can Put Aerosol Cans in the Recycling Bin

Many recycling programs accept empty aerosol cans with the caps attached. However, if the can is not fully dry, it has the potential to cause fires in recycling equipment or become a dangerous projectile. If you’re unsure, toss aerosol cans in the garbage, just to be safe.  

Any Plastic Product is Recyclable

Your local recycling program may only take certain kinds of plastics. Products like hoses, shower curtains, and other plastics may not be recyclable and don’t belong in curbside recycling. Review your local program’s rules and look for other local opportunities to dispose of larger plastic items.  

Find a Recycling Location Near You

Many municipalities offer their own curbside recycling programs, but even if your town does not, you likely have a nearby recycling center where you can drop off recyclable materials. You can find local recycling locations or visit your city website for more information. Even a simple Google search, like “recycle cans near me,” may turn up just the results you need.  

Look for More Ways to Be Eco-Friendly

The right electricity provider can help you save energy and money on your monthly bills, while making your home energy efficient. Explore your options and find a company that provides the best possible electricity plan for your household needs, taking advantage of renewable energy benefits.  

Gexa Energy is one of the fastest-growing retail electricity providers in the U.S. and has served residential and commercial customers in Texas since 2002. We provide people with affordable electricity plans, as well as EV and solar energy plans, and all Gexa Energy residential plans are 100% green.  

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Gexa Energy purchases renewable energy credits (RECs) from renewable generation resources throughout North America to match 100% of the energy sold under your electric plan. The RECs Gexa purchases represent the renewable attributes of power generated from a variety of renewable energy sources, including, but not limited to, the sun, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave or tidal energy, and biomass or biomass-based waste products, including landfill gas.